Karthika Masam is one of the most auspicious months in a lunar calendar. Karthika Masam is the eighth lunar month of Indian Astrology. It comes around November of Gregorian calender. It begins on the day after Deepavali and also marks the beginning of winter season.
The lunar calendar has been divided into two parts Dakshinayana and Uttararyana. Karthika Masam comes under Dakshinayana. Out of the two, Dakshinayana is set aside for Sadhana. Sadhana means a process by which one would get salvation. Out of all the months in Dakshinayana Karthika Masam is best suited for Sadhana. Hence Karthika Masam is one of the most auspicious months of the lunar calendar.
There are several rituals and customs that have to be followed during this month.
The most important significance of the Karthika Masam is that, Karthika Masam is auspicious to both the devotees of Lord Shiva as well as Lord Vishnu. During Karthika Masam temples of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are busy with devotees thronging both the temples. Karthika Masam helps us to understand that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are not different but only one.
Karthika Masam begins from Aaswayuja Sukla Pournami up to one month. In this Month Lord Shiva and Maha Vishnu are worshipped and prayed. People during this month observe strict rituals. The daily activities starts early in the morning taking bath with cold water, going to temple, lighting deepam, fasting and Saligrama Pooja. The most auspicious days in this season are Mondays which is very important to Lord Shiva. As per the puranas it is believed that by performing the Karthka Masam Vratham we can drove away the past karmas and the sins committed can be destroyed. Lighting Lamps with ghee made from the cow’s milk during the sunrise and sunset brings prosperity, wealth, health into our lives. It also burns the material desires in between our birth and death.
Also Tulasi plant is prayed and worshiped daily by lighting a deepam during this month. There is story behind this Tulasi came as a sister of Goddess Lakshmi when Amrita Mantham Ocean is churned. Tulasi wanted to marry Lord Vishnu but Lakshmi did not like this and cursed her to become a plant. But Lord Vishnu took pity and for fulfilling her wish he gave a boon that when he is in form of saligram, tulasi will be close to him. On Kartika Shukla Dwadashi Tulasi plant is decorated and prayed.
Karthika Masam Procedure:
· People should get up at Brahma Muhurtha time.
· Take bath with in the river or sea (including hair) if possible or take bath at home before sunrise.
· Perform Pooja at home by offering naivedyam. Visit temples on Mondays.
· Recite each chapter in Karthika puranam daily for 30 days.Also people recite Vishnu Sahasranamalu.
· Daily morning and evening perform light deepam. Light deepam at tulasi plant in the evening after the presence of stars.
· Lighitng deepam in Lord Shiva temple is very beneficial.
· Eat meal once a day. Don’t eat non veg food.Strictly avoid onions and garlic.
· Charity (Danam) has to be given to the poor and the people in need.
· Daily Japa(meditative repetition of a mantra or name of God) has to be performed.
· On karthika pournami light deepam with 365 wicks at Lord Siva temple or at tulasi plant.
· Fasting has to be observed especially on Naguala Chavithi, Ekadashi, Pournami.
· People should perform Archana and Abhishekam to Lord Shiva.
· For some families they will be karthika Masam nomulu they should follow the rituals very strictly.
· Vana Bojanalu (eating food) under the amla tree will remove off the sins committed.
· Some people use Deepam made of rice flour or Gooseberry to light Deepam.
· On the last Day of Karthika Masam is also very auspicious known as "Poli Swargam" ie Amavasya day.
On the last day Light Deepam with 31 wicks(mainly with puvvu vottulu 31 mainly because for the whole karthika masam) on a banana trunk or plantain stem(aarti dimma) and leave in the river. If not possible to light deepam near the river or else if not possible in the river You can light a Deepam near the Tulasi plant at home and in a big tub place filled with water and place the Deepam.
Karthika Masam Rituals:
Nadi Snanam (Bathing in River):
The rivers will receive fresh water during the rainy season comprising of Shravan and Bhadrapada Masam. As the rivers over flow banks and are furious, bathing in rivers during Shravana and Bhadrapada is prohibhited. The rivers completely settle by the time Karthika Masam starts.
Also the Moon during the Sharad Ruthuvu is a special one. Sharad Ruthuvu is known for the Moon light. Sharad Ruthuvu comprises of Ashwayuja or Ashwin Masam and Karthika Masam. All along the Aswayuja Masam the river would absorb the energy from Moon. By bathing in the river in Karhika Masam one can absorb this energy from the river. Hence it is mandated that one should take a dip in the river or perform Nadi Snanam in Karthika Masam.
The process of performing the Nadi Snanam is to close the nose with the two thumb fingers and close the ears with the middle fingers and take a dip so that the whole body along with the head will be submerged. This has to be repeated for a minimum of three times.
Lighting of Diyas:
During Karthika Masam, Diyas (Deepam) are lit and placed in front of Tulasi plant and near the main entrance of the house before Sun rise and just before Sun set. It is considered auspicious to light a Diya during Karthika Masam.
Temples would light a Diya and would bring the diya to the top of the Dhwaja Sthambam in the temple and tie it there on Karthika Pournami. This Diya is called as Akasa Deepam.
Karthika Pournami is celebrated in similar lines of Diwali and the whole house will be decorated with Diyas. Crackers are burnt on Karthika Pournami.
Vanabhojanam is a kind of annual ritualistic picnic undertaken during Karthika masam in Andhra Pradesh. As per Hindu tradition, plants are considered to be of divine nature and worshipped as God. Certain plants like Tulsi, Amla, Bilva and Durva plants are considered as divine and used in Pujas.
It is widely believed that Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi prefer to reside under Amla trees during Karthika month. Hence during Karthika Vanabhojanam, Amla trees are worshipped by the telugu community in Andhra Pradesh. People also offer puja to Lord Vishnu and recite the Vishnu Purana and Karthika Purana during Vana Mahotsavam rituals.
Karthika Ekadesi or Kaisika Ekadesi:
Kaisika Ekadasi or Karthika Ekadesi is the might of the procession of Ugra Srinivasa of Tirumala temple. This is also called Uthana Dwadasi in common terminology was reintroduced recently in Tirumala on Kasika Dwadasi day in Karthika Masam which was discontinued a few centuries ago, Vanabhojanotsavam was performed in Tirumala, In this fete Sri Malayappaswamy along with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi was taken in a procession to Parveta Mandapam in the morning and Tirumanjanam, Archana, Asthanam and Naivedyam was offered to the deities and the Prasadam was distributed among devotees.
Performing of SatyaNarayana Vratam:
Devotees of Lord Vishnu will perform the Satyanarayana Vrat during the holy month of Karthika Masam. It is belived that performing of Satyanarayana Vrata on Karthika Pournami would help to free from all the sins.
Karthika Somavara Vratam:
The process of Karthika Somavara Vratham would be fast for the whole day, perform the Rudra Abhishekam by chanting the Rudra Namakam and Rudra Chamakam. Then eat after seeing the moon or star.
Karthika Pournami pooja:
Kartika Pournami - the full moon day in the auspicious Hindu month of Kartika Masam is considered highly auspicious for worshiping Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu as well. The day is highly important for lighting up of oil lamps by the women folk, married women in particular and these lighted lamps are known as Kartika Deepam. The Hindus are mostly engaged in various religious activities on this day. Some perform Abhishekam to the Shiva Lingam while others perform Satyanarayana Vratam on this auspicious day.
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